Davie’s Snap Shot

Davie Palmer
This photo was found in a shop in Defiance, Ohio.  The name Davie Palmer is scrawled on the back.  The photographer was Pinder in Garrett, Indiana.

David Palmer was born in 1875 and lived in Richland township, a small community near Garrett.  He worked as a railroad section hand, never married and died, aged 45, of sudden heart trouble.

Census records
Find A Grave
World War I Draft Registration



The Best Deductions

C W and Laura Brown

These were some of the first old photos I picked up when I began collecting.  The green and dark brown cabinet card mounts are especially attractive and I love how crisp and richly saturated the images have remained after more than 130 years.

All the photos were taken at the same studio, Mast, in Marshall, Michigan, but only the photo of the couple has writing on the reverse.  The youngest girl is wearing what appears to be the same, or a very similar, necklace as the woman.  While I typically do not buy photos without some attribution, the previous observations, as well as the fact that the girls look to be either sisters or the same person, led me to purchase all of them, as I wanted to keep the photos together.

blog-brown-child-2blog-brown-child-1The notations on the back of the couple’s card have something that I’ve come to relish in a find…a date.  I quickly realized that photos with dates, even if they have no name, are a wonderful thing to have in a collection, as you can put the sitters’ fashions, hairstyles, and accessories with that moment in time. There are many wonderful guides that provide tips for dating photos in this manner, and I often refer to my 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark when looking for clues, but, having actual examples in my own collection is priceless to me.

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The Two Wives

John and Melissa Bennett Beck

I picked up this carte de visite, also known as a cdv, at the Markle Antique Mall in Markle, Indiana.  The words John Beck & wife were penned above the sitters’ heads. Based on the wife’s fashion and hairstyle, I loosely date the cdv to the 1870s.

John Beck had two wives…no, not at the same time.  But, two wives meant that I needed to gather as many pieces of the puzzle as possible in order to know which of John’s wives sat for this photograph.

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The gang’s almost all here

John William Stuck
John William Stuck

I discovered these photos in a shop in Warsaw, Indiana.  Although the gentleman sitter has his name, John William Stuck, written on the back of the cabinet card, he would be impossible to identify if it hadn’t been for the second photo found in the pile.  That photo, a cabinet card featuring three children, identified on the back as Mabel Stuck, Susie Tyrone Stuck, and Clesson Daniel Stuck, provided a location of Elkhart, Indiana.

Mabel, Susie and Clesson Stuck
Mabel, Susie Tyrone and Clesson Daniel Stuck

John William Stuck was born in 1856 in Pennsylvania and came with his family, as a young boy, to Elkhart, Indiana where he wed Mary Prudence Newman.  The couple made their home in Elkhart, where they raised their seven children, the eldest three being Mabel, Clesson and Susie.  Based on how old the children appear to be in the photo, along with the fact that John and Mary welcomed a son, Bernard, in 1894, I date the children’s photo to 1892 or 1893.

In order to date John’s photo, I consulted the 19th Century Card Photos KwikGuide by Gary W. Clark.  His hair and clothing appear to fit with styles seen from 1879 to 1885.  The turned up collar, which was popular in the 1850s and 60s, was making a comeback in the 1880s. He isn’t wearing a wedding ring, which may be a clue that the photo was taken prior to his marriage in 1881.  Of course, it’s also possible that he didn’t wear a ring.

Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing

During his life, John worked as a carriage maker, and later was employed as a wood pattern maker by the Elkhart (Elcar) Motor Company.  I suspect that he began working for the motor company when it was known as Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing.

I should be satisfied to have rescued these images, but I can’t help but wish that I found a photo of Mary and the other children.  It would be nice to complete the family and keep them together.

Census records
Coachbuilt – History of Elkhart Carriage and Elkhart Auto

Elkhart Carriage advertisement

Wedding Bells

What better time than Valentine’s Day to feature photos of couples from my collection. These first two cabinet photos were found at an antique mall in Auburn, Indiana.  The previous owner removed them from an album and noted on the back what was written on the discarded album pages. The photos, individually, are not identifiable, as one cabinet card supplies a location, but only a first name and the other provides first and last names of the couple, but no location.  Luckily, I’m quite thorough when looking through bins of photos, and recognized that they featured the same young woman.

I believe this photo was taken during their engagement or possibly as a wedding photo.  Granted, the young man does not look as if he’s excited to be there.  In fact, I see him as looking quite dejected.  But, Rosa May McKnight and Robert Eldred Wright wed on April 14, 1898 when they were 19 and 24 respectively, and they had forty-three years of wedded bliss (at least I like to imagine it was more bliss than not)!

Rosie & Robert Wright

Robert was the owner of the Nebraska Salesbook Company, a print shop business, which he founded in 1895.   To Robert’s credit, he grew his business from that of three employees, including himself, to that of one hundred when he retired in 1933.  The couple made their home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they raised four children; William, Lillian, Laverne, and Mildred.  One child, whose name is unknown, died very young.


about 1895

The next photo is a bit later than I normally like to collect, but just look at that dress, with all of lace and the drooping bouquet in her hand!  And it’s probably just me, but I’m getting a Mark Pellegrino vibe from the gentleman sitter.  Beginning in the late 1890s, cabinet cards were replaced with stiffer mounting cards that were constructed of multiple layers of dense pressed cardboard that produced a matte textured appearance.  These mounting cards came in gray, dark green, bronze and black and also in many different sizes, unlike cabinet cards which were traditionally 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.  For example, this card mount is 6 x 7 3/4″.  If you’d like to see the photo as it is mounted on the card, you can find it below, after sources.

John Goller and Mary (1st wife)

In addition to the names on the back of the photo, the writing also identified John and Mary as “Grapa (sic) Art’s Mom & Dad.”  This additional bit of information was a great help, as there was another John Goller living in the same area.

Miss Mary Thieroff, 23, married John Goller, 33, in 1899 in Defiance County, Ohio where they made their home and had three children; Alma Laurine, Clarence John, and Arthur Henry.  John’s parents immigrated to the US from Germany, as did Mary’s father.  I wish I could say they lived happily ever after, but I can not.  Mary died in 1913 from complications of a surgery and John married a second time to Miss Cora Greenler.  He died in 1934.

Census records
Ohio death records
Find A Grave
19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide, by Gary W. Clark
The Lincoln Star, Lincoln Nebraska
Lincoln Evening Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska
The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska
Defiance Crescent News, Defiance, Ohio





Broken Neck Wonder


I came to own this very unusual photograph when I purchased a family album in a shop near Pioneer, Ohio. With the photo secured in the album, I couldn’t see the text imprinted on the bottom of the card, and my mind went wild with ideas about why this man’s head would be in such a contraption.  Once at home, I carefully pulled the photo out of its page and that’s when I came to know Barney Baldwin, the Broken Neck Wonder.

Barney’s story is explained in the following article printed in the St. Paul Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, December 15, 1887.

Now, whether Barney’s tale is truth or fiction, I’ll let you be the judge.  I like to think that it’s a little of both.  There is evidence that Barney worked in a railroad yard in 1883 and in several articles it mentions that people witnessed scars on his legs and arms.  Possibly he did meet with an unfortunate accident of some sort.

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